Thursday, October 27, 2011

The 4-Dwarf Cold

Today I noticed that I have a cold.  Not just any cold, mind you, but a genuine four-dwarfer.

My husband and I began long ago to weigh our colds on the dwarfiness-scale.  Snow White (we decided) was not the only one who spent time with seven little guys.   Sneezy arrived at my house this very morning.  Sleepy is here as well, and throughout the day I’ve been more and more aware of Dopey.  And lo and behold, even as I write this, I’m feeling Grumpy pounding on the door.  Yep, I have a four dwarf-cold, all right.  I just hope it doesn’t go into a five-dwarfer, meaning I’ve had to call in the Doc.  But of course, it will all be over in a few weeks; then I should be Happy enough.  

And I really should be Bashful admitting this to you.  

In a letter from (the real) Paul, I read:  “We even boast of our afflictions!  We know that affliction makes for endurance, and endurance for tested virtue, and tested virtue for hope.”  (Romans 5:3-4)  Now, a cold is usually no huge deal in the grand scheme of things – not like the afflictions Paul had to endure.  But sometimes, when the throat burns and the head pounds and muscles cry out for rest, the tasks of daily life can feel a bit…. challenging.  I am helped in times of physical hassles when I remember the behavior of Paul and Silas in prison.  They’d been dragged, beaten, thrown into chains.  Their muscles must have throbbed with pain, their skin would have been scraped and burned.  Then, “about midnight…Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God…” (Acts 16:25).  Chained, imprisoned, sore, they were praying and singing hymns.  Their fellow prisoners listened, and an earthquake opened the doors and shook off everyone’s chains.  

I think of this tonight and realize I have a challenge before me.  I have a cold and various “aches and pains.”  Am I letting Grumpy get the upper hand?

Sneezy, Dopey and Sleepy come whether I want them to or not.  Grumpy knocks, but he can’t settle in for a visit unless I open the door.  As grumpy as I may FEEL, I can make the choice to be as kind (or at least as silent!) as I am able.  I can pray, and in my heart I can sing hymns of praise to God.  

If I do this, I have a feeling Grumpy might just limp on away…..

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Several of my breadbox treasures speak of what a friend calls the "gift of noticing."  This woman and I are both nature lovers, and we've learned that we don't have to flee to woods or seashore or mountains to find touches of God's amazing handiwork.  A marvel might be right before our eyes, if we only look out a window and notice what is there.  Raindrops shimmering on a leaf.  The coo of a dove nearby.  Crisp autumn leaves blowing across a city sidewalk....

One autumn when I was in a time of sadness, this friend wrote: “You notice the way the sun sets earlier these days and how it reflects nicely on a window at a certain hour.  You and I, we are fortunate to have this gift of observing the constant giving of nature, because in a way it sustains us.  I often think that God gives us nature to observe so as to learn from it.  How things bounce back… how spring always returns after winter, how there is always something beautiful even in the midst of the coldest winter day, like a sparkling icicle, the quiet glimmer of a winter moon, or holly berries covered in snow.  Even in our suffering, it seems that we tend to ‘see’ some beauty in life; it is part of who we are.  It is a great gift.”  

A great gift, indeed.  It is my belief that we all have this gift, a present from our God Who gave us a colorful, ringing, singing world.... and senses with which to notice. I hope to take a moment, today, to notice and be thankful for something God has made.  

Photo  © 2010 N Shuman, all rights reserved

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

some breadbox excavations

Going through “the breadbox” these last few days, I’ve been touched all over again by correspondence I’ve received.

Some letters illustrate truths.  “During the earthquake, a friend’s crucifix fell off the wall over her bed as she was sleeping.  She just grabbed it and held on.  I thought ‘and that’s how it is to be.’  During all the upheavals of our lives, we must hold on to HIM.” 

Some sweep me away to faraway places“G’day from the windswept, rain drenched north of the capes.  We’ve been out to the rocks, and watched the beach disappear under the hiss, froth and bubble of unrepentant waves…”  

Some bring a laugh.  “Our local government decided to override the people regarding time change.  Some of the objections to daylight savings time were:  Curtains fade with the longer hours of daylight.  Cows get confused about the time to come in for milking.  Now, I ask you…?!?”

In days to come, I’d like to share some rediscovered treasures.  I hope you’ll come along!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

bigger than a breadbox

"If I ever write an autobiography," I said to my husband one day, "I should call it 'Bigger than A Breadbox.'"  He smiled in agreement, having known for years about my childhood breadbox letters.  He'd also witnessed the widening of my world when a 1993 magazine article brought me mail, introduced me to people in unexpected places, and took us both (eventually) to the other side of the earth.

I've written many letters since the ones I penned (or more likely penciled) to "Paul." I have been blessed to receive quite a number as well.  Some of these I keep in a breadbox, one almost identical to that in which I mailed letters to long-ago-Paul.  In weeks to come I hope to share a few excerpts from these, for they are wise, often witty, and many times profound.  They make me glad I once practiced writing at a breadbox. For who knows?  Maybe it was "Paul" who actually made me love writing letters.

In that case, I suppose the breadbox has yielded a return…

(photo © Nancy Shuman; all rights reserved)